The Guru’s initiation is an intimate and personal experience, but often to share this experience with others is rewarding, inasmuch as it serves to establish a rapport between bhaktas. I would, therefore, like to offer to the readers some glimpses of my awakening, and the way in which Sai Baba drew me to his lotus feet.

Round about the year 1942 I was going through a difficult period of my life and was feeling unhappy and frustrated. Though I was God-fearing, I was not particularly religious and knew nothing about Saints and had not even heard about Sai Baba. Mentally and spiritually, therefore, I was not ripe for the Master’s Grace, and yet God fulfills himself in strange ways. A neighbor of our brought the late Shri B. V. Narasimha Swamiji to our house. He was a holy man, a true Sadhu and one of the most distinguished disciples of Shri Sai Baba. Incidentally, the Great Swamiji subsequently wrote a foreword to the first edition of my book. The foreword has been included in this edition.

Narasimha Swamiji at once sensed that all was not well with me, indeed he seemed to have come prepared, through some psychic perception, to meet me and help me. Taking me aside, he told me gently not to worry and said “Why don’t you seek refuge in Sai Baba?”. ‘Who is Sai Baba?’ I asked: Whereupon Baba’s holy disciple put in my hand a packet of books written by himself about Sai Baba. ‘Read these’ he said, and while blessing me also added, ‘There is a lovely picture of Baba in this packet for you’. He really seemed to have come prepared to lead a troubled soul to his Master! I confess that though I was touched by the Swami’s kindness, his advice and gift made no immediate impression on me. I put away the whole packet without even opening it, and persisted in my misery. Here, my husband was made an instrument to draw me to the spiritual path. For my husband opened the packet and after reading one of Swamiji’s books and seeing Sai Baba’s radiant picture, he said to me “Sai Baba seems to be a great saint, why don’t you read these books, they might help you”. But I remained unaffected. After a few days, however, I began to feel contrite, and just to please my husband, I took out Baba’s picture from the packet, framed it and put it on the table in front of our beds. This simple and penitent gesture started the miracle of my conversion. For, the very next day in the afternoon as I lay sleeping on my bed in front of the picture, so casually placed there by me, I was blessed with a lovely visitation. This was something more concrete than a dream, it was in fact a vision. I was dozing, when suddenly Sai Baba’s picture lit up with a translucent glow, his face broke into a tender smile, and his hand came out of the frame, as it were, while with his forefinger Baba beckoned to me. Still in the dream, I saw myself jump out of the bed and rush towards Baba’s photograph. Sai Baba then placed his hand on my head in blessing. I actually felt the ecstasy of his touch and woke up with a start. I was thrilled! This was indeed an initiation. Sai Baba’s grace had penetrated to my innermost being at last, and I knew I was saved. I subsequently remembered how one of Baba’s compassionate sayings applied in this case. “I seek out my bhaktas from long distances, under many please and draw them to me.....”

It is said that Guru’s grace falls on those who are ripe for it and deserve it. But this does not seem to be true in my case; I certainly did not deserve it, nor had my spirits risen out of the dark night of illusion and misery to greet the Light of Divine Love. I am inclined to think that Divine Grace follows no laws, For then it would be limited and thus cease to be Divine. God’s grace seems to be arbitrary, or perhaps it follows some higher laws, some mysterious pattern of which we in our ignorance have no cognizance. Whatever it may be, I know that from the very hour the vision was bestowed on me, my life changed, as I rose out of my apathy, and struggled to meet the Light shone upon me through the Guru’s radiant initiation.

Little did I guess at that time how pregnant with deep possibilities my meeting with Narasimha Swamiji would prove to me! To yield or not to yield to the call of the Guru we are no more free than the ebb and flow of the tide, but when one consciously begins to realize the importance of such a contact, then one is thrilled, then one’s spiritual sadhana is really said to have begun. True, there are many failures and setbacks and at times for long periods, losing sight of the high ideal, one even slips back to old grooves of thoughts and habit; often, there is a deluded sense of progress through a projection of one’s confused self as the ideal -- in short, there are many pitfalls and obstacles. But shouldn’t these difficulties necessarily be there, seeing that the ideal one has set for oneself is of the highest? And withal, it draws man’s whole being irresistibly onwards until the tiny spark becomes a flame.

The many thousands of devotees of Sai Baba will bear me out when I say that the Master’s peculiar characteristics is that he clings tenaciously to his devotees, as much as he expects his devotees to cling to him. Rarely has there been a Guru who has had this kind of attachment to his bhaktas -- though attachment is not perhaps a very happy word for the great love which Sai Baba showered on his flock when he was alive and continues to do even now more than 50 years after his mahasamadhi.

Man’s sub-conscious is a gravely unillumined region which throws up chaotic thoughts and feelings and the all too well known complexes of fear and frustrations. But somewhere also lies hidden in the sub-conscious infinite treasures of the spirit. How shall these be unearthed? Shri Sai Baba hints at complete surrender to the Divine. Throwing out all fear from one’s consciousness, for fear is the greatest of all enemies, he compassionately exhorts his devotees to “Cast all your burden on me and I will bear them”. Such faith is a gift. We must, therefore, cultivate it and cultivate too a receptivity and a capacity to lay ourselves open to the Guru’s protection, for only so can his divine grace manifest abundantly in us. Has not the Master said again and again -- “Look to me and I will look to you”

It is man’s privilege that he has been endowed with the capacity to experiment with Truth and to achieve in that process a new orientation of his personality. The pathos of life with its unstable vicissitudes and frustrations leads man at last to seek for the light that is not dimmed, the light that liberates man and gives him a taste of higher existence and fulfillment. Tired with the limited assurance of dry intellectualism and mere academic knowledge which seems still to leave his personality deeply disintegrated, tired also of his endless oscillations from pain to pleasure and pleasure to pain -- man craves for wisdom, and craves even more for that peace which passeth all understanding. This is the first step. But once this divine discontent is felt, very often it serves as an incentive to further researches into unexplored levels of thought and experience. It is here that one begins to look for inspiration, and unconsciously one’s being hankers for the Master, the Guru who alone can reveal to man his sadhana, and help him to grow more and more in spirituality until he eternally abides in the Lord.

Almost from the dawn of her history, it has been the privilege of Bharat to produce such Gurus, such maharishis, and it is the exalted spiritual culture which these realized souls have taught from time to time that India has the privilege of bestowing as her unique contribution to the world. Swami Vivekananda said: “Like the gentle dew that falls unseen and unheard and yet bring into bloom the fairest of roses, has been the contribution of India to the thought of the world. Silent, unperceived, yet omnipresent in its effect, it has revolutionized the thought of the world”. Poets sometimes, and sages even more than the poets, are alone capable of substituting enlightenment for knowledge, for they have some mysterious source of inspiration, and drawing from this source they are able to touch the mainsprings of human endeavor. The poet Lowell has expressed this sentiment aptly in “Colombus” -- only I would substitute the word “Sages” for “Poets”.

“.....And I believe the poets, it is they who utter wisdom from the central deep and listening to the inner flow of things speak to the age out of Eternity”.

Some years after I was initiated by Sai Baba, he himself subtly pushed me over to his successor. My unfathomable hankering for a living embodiment of the Guru was also fulfilled when I stood in Godavari Mataji’s presence. Mother appeared to recognize me, and welcomed me like a long-lost child on the very first day of our meeting, and I too intuitively felt the complete identification of Godavari Maa with Sai Baba. But a few years later I was beset with doubts. In the loving Mother so much was I disloyal to my Guru? But when Mother came to know of my fears she rebuked me gently “Do not entertain such doubts. Sai Baba and I are one.” She declared with earnest conviction, and then added with her characteristic humility: “Come to me, cling to me, but in your ‘Japa’ repeat Sai Baba’s name”. When Mother uttered these words, all doubts dissolved from my mind as I realized that Mother is but the living extension of my Guru-- Shri Sai Baba.

Sai Baba is perhaps one of the most approachable of Gurus. Men and women could go to him at any time with their problems. No yearning of the human heart is too insignificant for this compassionate Avatar. His heart, even now, burns for the woes and miseries of the ordinary householder. It is but natural that with such an amazing outpouring of love Sai Baba should have favoured the way of Devotion as the most important spiritual path. In tracing the life, doing and teachings of this Great Master, we automatically trace the renaissance of Bhakti in comparatively modern times.